Memphis was ranked the 7th worst city for pedestrians out of 54 large metro areas, according to a new report by Transportation for America.
Between 2000 to 2009, 266 people in Memphis were killed while walking. The report — Dangerous by Design 2011: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods) — based findings on how much risk pedestrians face when walking around the city. Transportation for America blames the problem on a lack of safe sidewalks, crosswalks, and signals.
“Memphis is actively trying to reverse this disturbing trend. Last fall, a successful demonstration project
was completed that added defined crosswalks and bicycle lanes along with increased on-street parking
on Broad Avenue," said John Lawrence of Liveable Memphis. "A seminar was held at the Memphis Area Association of Realtors that focused on increasing home values through walkable neighborhood center development. The Memphis City Council recently passed new bicycle safety laws and is currently reviewing updated pedestrian safety ordinances.”
In Tennessee, minority pedestrians are far more likely to be hit by cars. From 2000 to 2007, the rate of Hispanic pedestrian deaths was 73 percent higher than for non-Hispanic whites. During that same time frame, the rate of African American pedestrian deaths was 102 percent higher than whites. The elderly and children are also disproportionately affected.
Memphis has made a few pedestrian-friendly changes since the data collection for this study was complete, including the Shelby Farms Greenline. Designs are also currently underway for a greenline connecter from Overton Park to Tillman and 55 miles of bike lanes across the city.